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Rookie Meter: Raiders WR Moore races onto the scene

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Posted Sept. 20, 2011 @ 6:22 p.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

We like to dedicate this space in the Rookie Meter to the big performances by rookies or some trends involving the league's first-year players.

Well, if Cam Newton keeps throwing for over 400 yards, it will be difficult to ignore him.

Newton followed up his sensational debut by completing 28-of-46 passes for 432 yards against the Packers. He also led the team in rushing with 53 yards. He threw for a score and ran for a score but also threw three interceptions in the 30-23 loss.

Enough about Newton, though; it's time to share the space. How about the next in line in Oakland at wide receiver — Denarius Moore.

The fifth-round speedster vaulted up the depth chart because of injuries, but Sunday wasn't very shocking, considering he had wowed observers in training camp. In the loss to the Bills, Moore had five catches for 146 yards on eight targets. He had an acrobatic 50-yard touchdown catch, outjumping Bills CB Leodis McKelvin.

"He is as advertised," Raiders head coach Hue Jackson told reporters Monday. "It's going to be hard to keep that young man off the field."

Moore reminded us of last year's Raiders rookie wide receiver to crash the meter, Jacoby Ford, another middle-round sleeper who turned heads. Without a clear-cut go-to guy at wide receiver, expect Moore to continue to put up big numbers.

Another speedy rookie, Lions WR Titus Young, had a nice game with five catches for 89 yards. Dolphins rookie RB Daniel Thomas impressed in his debut and rushed for 107 yards, the first 'Fin to rush for over 100 yards since 2009. Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson collected a safety with a sack of Luke McCown. And Bengals QB Andy Dalton is on the cusp of the meter after completing 27-of-41 passes for 332 yards and two scores.

Now, onto the meter.

1. Broncos OLB Von Miller (1, 2)
Last week's ranking: 1

Just like the Packers remained the top team in our power rankings despite a push by the Patriots, Miller remains atop the Rookie Meter, with Newton slimming the margin. Miller did nothing to relinquish his spot in Week Two, picking up his first career sack and adding two passes defensed in the Broncos' first win.

2. Panthers QB Cam Newton (1, 1)
Last week's ranking: 3

Newton has been chucking it around a lot, similar to how last year's Rookie of the Year, Sam Bradford, began his career. But Newton is supposed to have a good running game to complement him. Instead, he is the team's leading rusher through two games. That's good for his stats and a spot on the meter, but not for getting the team wins.

3. Bengals WR A.J. Green (1, 4)
Last week's ranking: 5

Green made the most of his only catch in Week One and had a monster game in Week Two. He had 10 catches for 124 yards and a touchdown on 14 targets. It's clear that Andy Dalton likes having the big receiver to throw to often, and the Bengals' offense hasn't sputtered as much as everyone had expected early on — although they did start the season against Cleveland and Denver.

4. Falcons WR Julio Jones (1, 6)
Last week's ranking: 2

The Falcons faced another good defense in the Eagles, who have three elite cornerbacks who gave Jones a tough ballgame. He finished with only two catches for 29 yards in the win, with the Falcons getting a lot of their offense from Michael Turner and between-the-hashmarks throws to TE Tony Gonzalez. The Falcons' O-line's struggles are making it difficult for the receivers to compile big numbers.

5. Saints RB Mark Ingram (1, 28)
Last week's ranking: 4

Ingram had another quiet game, rushing for 51 yards on 14 carries against the Bears. Ingram also lost a fumble in the game. The good news for Ingram's stock is he remains the team's top back, getting five more carries than Pierre Thomas, and he began his career facing two pretty good run defenses — Green Bay and Chicago.

6. Texans DE J.J. Watt (1, 11)
Last week's ranking: 6

Remember that whole thing about Watt being a playmaker? He blocked a field goal in the Texans' win over the Dolphins and added four tackles and a quarterback hit. Houston has begun the season 2-0, thanks in part to the revamped defense, and Watt is making the Texans thankful for picking him in the first round.

7. Redskins OLB Ryan Kerrigan (1, 16)
Last week's ranking: 8

Speaking of Big Ten playmakers, Kerrigan had another solid game for the undefeated Redskins. He had three tackles, a sack and two passes defensed. In fact, Kerrigan leads all rookies with three passes defensed this season. Pretty good for an outside linebacker.  

8. Bills DE Marcell Dareus (1, 3)
Last week's ranking: 7

Dareus slipped only because of the big plays by his defensive rookie counterparts, but it's nothing against his early play. He had four tackles in the Bills' 38-35 win and is every bit what they were hoping for, in terms of improving the run defense. On a third-down play at the end of the third quarter, Dareus powered his way past OG Carlisle Cooper and pressured Jason Campbell, who overthrew his receiver.

9. Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson (1, 5)
Last week's ranking: 9

In the Cardinals' loss to the Redskins, Peterson tied for the team lead with eight tackles. He had a 29-yard punt return at the end of the game. Peterson fielded the punt in the endzone and would have needed a miracle to take it to the house as time was expiring.

10. Raiders WR Denarius Moore (5, 148)
Last week's ranking: NR

As mentioned above, the speedy rookie will have a big role in the Raiders' passing game this season. With a host of rookies making splashes in Week Two, Moore beats them onto the list with his potential to put together a very solid season.

On the cusp (listed alphabetically):

Colts RB Delone Carter (4, 119)
Packers WR-KR Randall Cobb (2, 64)
Bengals QB Andy Dalton (2, 35)
Buccaneers MLB Mason Foster (3, 84)
Redskins RB Roy Helu (4, 105)
Rams TE Lance Kendricks (2, 47)
Browns DT Phil Taylor (1, 21)
Dolphins RB Daniel Thomas (2, 62)
Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson (1, 30)
Lions WR Titus Young (2, 44)


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